March 28, 2005: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Blogs - Kyrgyzstan: Elections: Personal Web Site: Liz Paul (K12) in Kyrgyzstan - You Say You Want A Revolution

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Liz Paul (K12) in Kyrgyzstan - You Say You Want A Revolution

Liz Paul (K12) in Kyrgyzstan - You Say You Want A Revolution

Liz Paul (K12) in Kyrgyzstan - You Say You Want A Revolution

You Say You Want A Revolution

Money, vodka, weight-lifting equipment, job security: just a few things for which the average Kyrgyz citizen may be tempted to exchange his vote.

The first round of parliamentary elections took place on February 27th. A few weeks before, one of the many local candidates made a “gift” of a gym’s worth of training equipment to our university. At about the same time, the employees of another university in town were on the stump for their Rector who was running for office – just the duty of any loyal employee who wants to keep her job.

Despite a palpable support for opposition candidates, the second and final round of elections on March 13th resulted in a parliament 90% loyal to President Akayev’s party, including his son and daughter who ran in districts where opposition candidates had been prevented from running by recent legislation.

With the added talk that President Akayev was prepared to alter the constitution yet again in order to prolong his stay in office before the upcoming presidential election, the people of Kyrgyzstan, it seemed, had finally had enough. Protests began in southern Jalal-Abad, where people denounced the election results and called for Akayev’s resignation.

I was in the office trying to figure out the next twist in the technological acrobatics I have to go through every time I want to print something (internet café to jump drive, jump drive to computer A, computer A to floppy disc, floppy disc to computer B, computer B to printer) when I heard about the events in Jalal-Abad. Though only three or four hours away, I have yet to visit Jalal-Abad, and the incidents there felt far removed, though my Kyrgyz colleagues’ excitement was obvious.

The next day we learned that protestors had arrived in Osh and were demonstrating in the square around the White House (government building). We were administering a proficiency exam for the English teachers in our department that day and nearly half were missing, as our Rector (former Minister of Education under Akayev) had ordered them to the White House to launch a counter-protest.

As a Peace Corps volunteer, I have to keep my distance from political events like elections and protests and had only a peripheral sense of the opposition that was mounting on the White House square that weekend. It was a holiday weekend – Monday was Norooz, the Kyrgyz New Year – and it was difficult to know how to interpret the tone of anticipation.

But on Norooz the traditional holiday stroll through the White House square was preempted by the protests. The bazaar was completely and eerily abandoned and people lined the streets watching and waiting, for what exactly I knew not.

It was a beautiful day and I walked home through my southeast neighborhood with the spring sun shining over the distant mountains of Tajikistan. The white and pink blooms of apricot trees punctuated the new green of the grass and trees along the river.

Later that night I learned that the protestors had taken Osh’s White House and installed an opposition government as they had in Jalal-Abad. My host family assured me that all of the universities would be closed the next day, but when I arrived at work on Tuesday a considerable number of students, teachers, and administrators were there, milling about not knowing what to do.

People expected the protestors to take over the universities, being government property, and several universities in town had accordingly declared a week’s vacation. But the administrators at my university seemed to be waiting to see what would happen. I was sent home in case the protestors actually came, though none did.

By the end of the day the administrators had finally come to the official decision to leave the university open for the rest of the week. But by the time they did, any students who had been there in the morning had left and most of them had gone to their families’ villages for the week.

So though the university remained triumphantly open, nothing happened there all week until Thursday the 24th, when the Rector, on the advice of the opposition, went to the square and spoke in support of the new opposition government which was, at the same time, taking over the White House in Bishkek.

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand Date: March 20 2005 No: 530 Crisis Corps arrives in Thailand
After the Tsunami in Southeast Asia last December, Peace Corps issued an appeal for Crisis Corps Volunteers and over 200 RPCVs responded. The first team of 8 Crisis Corps volunteers departed for Thailand on March 18 to join RPCVs who are already supporting relief efforts in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India with other agencies and NGO's.

This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL Date: March 27 2005 No: 537 This Month's Feature Stories - only on PCOL
Dream Come True - Revisiting India after 34 years
The Coyne Column: Read Winning Vanity Fair PCV Essay
Tomas Belsky's paintings inspired by service in Brazil
RPCV reunites with friend after 40 years
RPCV reviews "Los Heraldos Negros" by Cesar Vallejo
Photo Essay: Taking it to the Streets

March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: March 26 2005 No: 532 March 26, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
PCVs in Kyrgyz Republic Are Safe 25 Mar
The Coyne Column: A Good Friday Message 25 Mar
Frederic Zenhausern developing "biometric bodysuits" 24 Mar
Robert Blackwill calls for US co-operation with India 23 Mar
Margaret Krome promotes alternate crops 23 Mar
Al Kamen says allies disappointed in World Bank 23 Mar
Ambassador Randall L. Tobias speaks at PC 22 Mar
Becky Binns helps organize 30-hour fast 22 Mar
Fred Poses meets with Vice-Premier in China 22 Mar
John Hoff unionizes substitute teachers in Hawaii 21 Mar
Bill Moyers takes time to "sit and vegetate" 21 Mar
Tony Hall says Ethiopia may need more food aid 21 Mar
Taylor Hackford's 'Ray' wins four NAACP Image Awards 21 Mar
PCV seeks tap shoes for students in Moldova 20 Mar
Adam Donaldson learns to believe in Baltimore 20 Mar
Allen Andersson builds libraries in Central America 19 Mar
Senator Sarbanes' quiet leadership will be missed 15 Mar

March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News Date: March 26 2005 No: 534 March 26, 2005: RPCV Groups in the News
Houston RPCVs sponsor "Around the World in a Day"on April 6 25 Mar
Minnesota RPCVs need Photos for Exhibition 24 Mar
Vasquez to visit DePaul University on April 6 22 Mar
New Jersey RPCVs host exhibit in Maplewood on April 2 20 Mar
Maryland RPCVs eat crab cakes in Annapolis 17 Mar
Connecticut RPCVs held fundraiser on March 5 3 Mar
RPCVs: Post your stories or press releases here for inclusion next week.

RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC Date: March 5 2005 No: 482 RPCVs in Congress ask colleagues to support PC
RPCVs Sam Farr, Chris Shays, Thomas Petri, James Walsh, and Mike Honda have asked their colleagues in Congress to add their names to a letter they have written to the House Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asking for full funding of $345 M for the Peace Corps in 2006. As a follow-on to Peace Corps week, please read the letter and call your Representative in Congress and ask him or her to add their name to the letter.

Add your info now to the RPCV Directory Date: March 13 2005 No: 489 Add your info now to the RPCV Directory
Call Harris Publishing at 800-414-4608 right away to add your name or make changes to your listing in the newest edition of the NPCA's Directory of Peace Corps Volunteers and Former Staff. Then read our story on how you can get access to the book after it is published. The deadline for inclusion is May 16 so call now.

March 1: National Day of Action Date: February 28 2005 No: 471 March 1: National Day of Action
Tuesday, March 1, is the NPCA's National Day of Action. Please call your Senators and ask them to support the President's proposed $27 Million budget increase for the Peace Corps for FY2006 and ask them to oppose the elimination of Perkins loans that benefit Peace Corps volunteers from low-income backgrounds. Follow this link for step-by-step information on how to make your calls. Then take our poll and leave feedback on how the calls went.
Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgyzstan; Blogs - Kyrgyzstan; Elections



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